Alternative Press - 1998

Rasputina's Cello Hell - Horse Hair, Cat Gut & Whale Bones
By Tom Lanham

  Try as she might, Melora Creager just can't forget Little Rock, Arkansas. Opening for Goth-industrial gods Marilyn Manson with her ladies cello society, Rasputina, fiddling dark dirges while attired in a constricting Victorian corset, she was little prepared for the crowd's reaction.

  "We were just sorta thrown into a den of lions there," shivers Creager, safely ensconced in her spooky Brooklyn flat. "They saw the fear in our eyes, they smelled it, and they threw things. Yoga books. Skoal cans. Toilet paper. And I don't know if people realise, just with physics, how much pain a penny or a piece of ice causes when hurled from a distance."

  Cellos were dinged and dented. The Rasputina girls tried to tune their instruments to no avail. The most vivid memory Creager has of the evening, she frowns, is of screaming at fellow bandmate Agnieszka Rybska - who "had gone limp and given up" - to "Play, Agnieszka! Play!"

  A photography major in school, a jewelry designer by trade, Creager generally stays out of the line of fire. Her surreal take on folk art is featured in the booklet for Rasputina's sophomore CD, How We Quit The Forest (Columbia), as are her elaborate pencil sketches, many of which are self-portraits. Although today she is wearing a very current ensemble of tank top, harem pants and floral-print slides, her apartment is adorned with prints, photographs and sculptures that are at least a century old. A Bach sonata noodles gently from her stereo; a fencing mask - testimony to - hands nearby.

  "I like excessive detail and I like decay," Creager says of her taste in art. "And surreal stuff,llike my collages, are real to me. Like, by making something I can actually go there, and it feels real at the time." It follows that much of Forest finds Creager, in her delicate vibrato, wondering aloud about strange diseases ("Trenchmouth"), the outdated curing practics of such ailments ("Leechwife"), and even the twisted experiments that Nazi doctors performed on sets of twins ("Herb Girls Of Birkenau"). The results are agreeable, but why has the multi-talented Creager decided to go full-tilt with the cellos?

  "I have a lot of skills, but as I focus on one, the others sort of fall by the wayside," she sighs, pointing to dozens of trays of ornate beads, and a long-dormant glue gun, from her jewelry-designing days. "And a lot of people as me, 'Oh, you don't do photography anymore? How can you let something like that lapse?' But I really feel like I'm always me and these different things are all the same - Rasputina is a living photograph, continuing what I was trying to do in college. It's just another form of expression.